Pedestrian safety is everyone’s responsibility

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 at 5:45 am

BAXTER, Minn. — With the increase in tourists for summer vacation, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety urge Minnesotans to take responsibility for pedestrian safety. Motorists should be alert and stop for pedestrians crossing the street at crosswalks and intersections and also for those crossing illegally. Pedestrians, especially those who are not familiar with local roads, should look for traffic in all directions before crossing the street.

“Pedestrians should take the time to cross where it’s safe, not where it’s convenient,” says Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel. “Motorists need to pay special attention to pedestrians crossing between crosswalks or intersections, especially children and the elderly.”

In 2008, 25 individuals were killed and 975 were injured in pedestrian incidents. So far in 2009, 16 pedestrians have been killed, compared to 11 individuals at this time last year.

Failures to yield the right-of-way and driver inattention/distraction are the main contributing factors in pedestrian crashes. In 2008, forty-four percent of pedestrians killed and 26 percent of pedestrians injured were trying to cross a road at an area with no crosswalk or signal.

A majority of pedestrians killed and injured are males ages 15–24. Most pedestrian crashes occur in the metro area during afternoon rush hours, yet many pedestrian fatal crashes occur between midnight and 3 a.m. Of those killed during that time period in 2008, 66 percent had alcohol-concentration levels higher than 0.10.

Traffic safety officials offer these pedestrian safety tips:

Motorists —
Watch for pedestrians and prepare to stop if a pedestrian is approaching the intersection.
Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks — it’s the law.
Remember, the law applies to both intersections with or without painted crosswalks.

Pedestrians —
Cross only at intersections or crosswalks.
Follow and obey all traffic signals and signs.
Do not enter a crosswalk if a vehicle is too close or moving too fast to stop safely.

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